The slowdown in global warming is likely to end within two years as the Earth’s climate system undergoes a radical shift that could push temperatures to record highs this year and next, according to the Met Office.
The findings will demolish claims by climate sceptics that the slowdown in the rate of global warming over the past 17 years proves that scientists’ concerns are exaggerated.
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Apart from potentially pushing the world into record temperatures, El Niño has already weakened the Indian monsoon season and has increased the risk of droughts in South Africa, Indonesia and Australia.
It could also be a force for good, potentially bringing rain to California which has suffered drought.
At the same time, the rate at which the temperature rises could enter a period of higher increases, at a similar level to that seen before the slowdown began.“Global mean temperatures in 2014, 20 are likely to be at or near record levels...
It is now likely that decadal warming rates will reach late 20th century levels in the next couple of years,” said Professor Adam Scaife, of the Met Office Hadley Centre.